— INDIANAPOLIS — A total of 39 conservationists who have dedicated their lives to saving Earth’s endangered species have been nominated to receive the biennial Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation.
The winner of the prize will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal. Five other finalists will each receive $10,000.
The nominees’ work spans the globe and represents a range of species including chimpanzees, snow leopards, sea turtles, giant pandas, bats, and swans. An international nominating committee composed of renowned professional conservationists and local representatives reviews all nominations and selects six finalists, who will be revealed in the spring of 2014. The prize jury will then determine the winner, who will be announced in mid-2014 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., to be held Sept. 27, 2014, in Indianapolis.
“The current nominees are exceptional and they represent many of the most significant wildlife conservationists working in the field today,” said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, which initiated the Indianapolis Prize as part of its core mission. “Increasingly more species are at risk of extinction, and these heroes deserve our recognition and support for their expertise, accomplishments, and tireless efforts protecting them. We encourage people around the world to celebrate the nominees’ important work and to join them in advancing animal conservation.”
In alphabetical order, the nominees for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize are:
Joel Berger, Ph.D.: (Wildlife Conservation Society) Distinguished scientist leading projects including pronghorn antelope migration corridor conservation, impacts of energy development on wildlife in Greater Yellowstone, impacts of climate change on musk ox in the Alaskan Arctic, and saiga antelope conservation in Mongolia.
Christophe Boesch, Ph.D.: (Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology) Primatologist dedicated to decreasing pressure on wild chimpanzees, providing alternatives to bush meat, and applying new technology to great apes conservation.
Sheila Bolin: (The Regal Swan Foundation, Inc.) Advocate for humane treatment and veterinary care for swans worldwide through conservation, research, veterinary medicine, education, and swan-related product development.
Patrick Burchfield, Ph.D.: (Gladys Porter Zoo) Persistent defender of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles against impossible odds; restored turtle nests and hatchlings released into the Gulf of Mexico by more than 3,000 percent since 1985.
Fred Burton: (Blue Iguana Recovery Programme) Internationally-known director of an integrated conservation program for the endangered Grand Cayman blue iguana; successfully brought the species back from critically endangered status on the IUCN Red List in 2012.
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.: (Instituto de Ecologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) Champion for jaguars in Mexico, conducting the first country-level jaguar census and the most comprehensive jaguar study to date. Finalist for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
Wendy Collinson: (The Endangered Wildlife Trust) Researcher and campaigner for the Roadkill Research and Mitigation Project; responsible for driving initiatives, international road ecology workshops, and action plans that address the recognized threat of roads to biodiversity in South Africa.
Andrew Conolly: (African Lion and Environmental Research Trust) Cattle and wildlife rancher turned lion conservationist; founder of the four-stage African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program to secure a future for Africa’s most iconic species.
Lisa Dabek, Ph.D.: (Papua New Guinea Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, Woodland Park Zoo) Founder of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; responsible for the first conservation area in Papua New Guinea; used Crittercam technology for the first time on arboreal mammals, allowing scientists to record animal behavior through mounted video cameras and transmitters.
Johannes Fritz, Ph.D.: (Waldrappteam) Advocate of the critically-endangered Waldrapp ibis and founder of the Waldrapp team project to re-establish the bird in its historic migration range from Bavaria to Italy.
Biruté Mary Galdikas, Ph.D.: (Orangutan Foundation International) More than 35 years of advancing research on wild orangutan ecology and behavior; established rehabilitation and release programs and saved millions of acres of tropical rain forest in Borneo.
Jane Goodall, Ph.D.: (The Jane Goodall Institute) First anthropologist to observe tool-making in primates, now inspires action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, while encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.
Helen Hays: (American Museum of Natural History) Ornithologist working on Great Gull Island to restore its population of Roseate Terns to the largest concentration in the Western Hemisphere.
Denver Holt: (Owl Research Institute) One of the world’s leading owl biologists; founder of the Owl Research Institute and the Ninepipes Wildlife Research Center.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Conservancy) Conducted in-depth radio-tracking studies of snow leopards since the 1980s; dedicated to building local communities' capacity as key players in conserving the species. Finalist for the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Indianapolis Prize.
Christopher Jenkins, Ph.D.: (The Orianne Society) Founder of the Orianne Society, dedicating numerous years to snakes, one of the most vilified and persecuted groups of animals in the world.
Carl Jones, Ph.D.: (Mauritian Wildlife Foundation) Biologist who pioneered the techniques of applied population management to reverse the decline of highly endangered species; instrumental in the creation of the first national park in Mauritius; involved in the recovery of five bird species coming from populations of less than 10 specimens. Finalist for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize.
Stephen Kress, Ph.D.: (National Audubon Society) Ornithologist and expert in seabird conservation; known as "The Puffin Man” because of his success leading Audubon's Project Puffin in Maine.
Amanda Lollar: (Bat World Sanctuary) Established Bat World Sanctuary, the largest rehabilitation facility in the world dedicated exclusively to bats. Created the first nutritionally sound diet for debilitated bats.
Patricia Majluf, Ph.D.: (Universidad Peruna Cayetano Herdia) Almost singlehandedly led marine conservation efforts in Peru, through political unrest, countless governments, and systemic corruption; improved industrial fishery practices and initiated campaign for the use of anchoveta as a protein source for Peru’s malnourished people.
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.: (Cheetah Conservation Fund) Founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund, leading a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation. Finalist for the 2008 and 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
Nick Marx: (Wildlife Alliance) Revolutionized the rescue, care, and rehabilitation of wild animals in Southeast Asia, risking his life many times and disrupting illegal wildlife trafficking by more than 75 percent.
Stephen McCulloch: (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) Created legislation to fund several ongoing marine mammal research and conservation programs while working to construct the first teaching marine mammal hospital, science, and education center.
Patricia Medici, Ph.D.: (IUCN Tapir Specialist Group) An unsung conservation hero with over 20 years experience conducting field work on tapirs and other wildlife species; founding member of the Institute for Ecological Research, the most respected and effective conservation NGO in Brazil.
Charudutt Mishra, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Trust & Nature Conservation Foundation) Conservation biologist working to protect threatened species and habitats throughout Central Asia, with a focus on the charismatic and endangered snow leopard.
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.: (Conservation International) Visionary leader able to motivate every level of conservationist to support the greater good of many species, including primates; one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the welfare and conservation of primates. Finalist for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize.
Attaullah Pandrani: (Save the Nature Organization) Marine biologist striving to improve nesting conditions of Pakistani sea turtles, protect mangrove trees as a natural habitat, and reduce hunting and trapping threats.
Michael Phillips: (Turner Endangered Species Fund) Montana state senator and co-founder of the Turner Endangered Species Fund; working to restore imperiled mammals, birds, fishes, amphibians, and plants with an emphasis on wolf recovery.
Nicolas Pilcher, Ph.D.: (Marine Research Foundation) Founder and executive director of the Marine Research Foundation, working to further the understanding of marine ecosystems and their functions, and conserve the abundance and diversity of marine flora and fauna through research, conservation, and education activities.
Gay Reinartz, Ph.D.: (Zoological Society of Milwaukee) Internationally recognized for her work on behalf of the bonobo in both the wild and captivity, working to protect and conserve this endangered great ape that is found only in the remote heartland of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Carl Safina, Ph.D.: (Blue Ocean Institute) Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art, and literature to inspire a "sea ethic." Finalist for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
Joel D. Sartore: (National Geographic Magazine) Photojournalist with mission to give vanishing species and habitats a voice before they're gone forever; co-founder of The Grassland Foundation.
John Seidensticker, Ph.D.: (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) Pioneered the use of radio telemetry to study cougars in North America and was co-leader of the team that captured and radio-tracked the first wild tigers in Nepal; dedicated to tiger science and conservation for nearly 40 years.
Claudio Sillero, Ph.D.: (Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, University of Oxford) Founder and executive director of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, keeping watch over Africa's rarest and most endangered carnivore.
Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.: (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Zoo Atlanta) One of the world’s foremost experts in gorilla behavior and cognition, with over 13 years of dual-expertise in wild and zoo-housed populations.
Ronald Swaisgood, Ph.D.: (Institute for Conservation Research, Zoological Society of San Diego) Trained field biologist serving San Diego Zoo Global as director of applied animal ecology, overseeing recovery programs for species such as California condors, burrowing owls, Caribbean rock iguanas, mountain yellow-legged frogs, giant pandas, rhinoceros, kangaroo rats, and Pacific pocket mice.
Randall Wells, Ph.D.: (Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, Chicago Zoological Society) Program director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population.
Romulus Whitaker: (Madras Crocodile Bank & Centre for Herpetology) Devoted four decades of work to studying and conserving diverse reptiles and reversing both public and governmental opinion to one demanding conservation and appreciation.
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.: (Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University) Discovered the golden bamboo lemur in 1986, a species that was then unknown to science, which helped to catalyze the transformation of Madagascar's park systems, turning it into a model for global conservation efforts. Finalist for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize.
The Indianapolis Prize was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. The 2008 winner was George Schaller, Ph.D., senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and an icon in field conservation around the world. In 2010, the Indianapolis Prize was awarded to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants, who pioneered research in elephant social behavior and has led the way in fighting poaching of African elephants. Steven Amstrup, Ph.D., of Polar Bears International, received the 2012 Indianapolis Prize for his work promoting the cause of the world’s largest land carnivore.